Husband and wife take on 46-mile cycle for research after Alzheimer’s diagnosis

22 May 2017

A landscape architect diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and his wife will be taking on a 46-mile cycle race through London for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

When Richard Fried, 57, began showing the symptoms of dementia from the age of 50 it was initially put down to depression.

Mary and Richard Fried

Despite his wife Mary Fried, 59, fighting for a different diagnosis the couple found out Richard had early-onset Alzheimer’s by chance in December 2015 after he took part in some research.

Brain scans revealed abnormal levels of amyloid, a protein which builds up and clumps together in Alzheimer’s disease.

The pair, who have two grown up children, and live in Hever, Kent, have decided to fundraise for Alzheimer’s Research UK following his diagnosis, by taking on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46.

Mary said:

“Dementia really started impacting on our lives around six or seven years ago. We were both self-employed. Richard was always more creative than practical, but suddenly he stopped doing all finances, he’d never invoice people and it was apparent that something was wrong. I was quite anxious about it all and there were a lot of misunderstandings between us.

“He was put on antidepressants and had therapy but it didn’t do much. We moved away from London for a simpler life but in the country it just got progressively worse. His lack of reliability to remember anything became acute, it became a strain on us professionally and emotionally and it was untenable. I had to ring clients up and cancel jobs so we decided it would be best for him to stop working for a while.

“I also cut back on my job as a freelance fashion designer, I just couldn’t cope with it all. My level of tolerance reduced to nothing and I’d never cried so much with frustration.

“The first six months at home after the diagnosis were horrific, we were all very shaken by it, particularly our children. However after the diagnosis we were offered much more support from various organisations. We signed up to Join Dementia Research, the dementia research register, which really helped, and got involved in various projects which has been very reassuring, as we’re in touch with so many specialists. Richard is about to start a phase three clinical trial.

“He has good days and bad, but we thought the RideLondon challenge would be a great thing to take up and the training has kept us healthy. We’re both very keen cyclists. We both cycled round Europe and I’ve cycled John O’Groats to Land’s End before. We wanted to raise awareness of the fact that dementia isn’t just something older people get, while raising money for a fantastic cause.”

Mary and Richard’s son, who works as a bike builder, made them the bikes they’ll be cycling on during the ride.

Kenneth Foreman, Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We can’t thank Richard and Mary enough for taking on RideLondon for vital dementia research.

“There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and Alzheimer’s Research UK is funding the best research to find treatments and preventions for the condition.

“Richard’s story is a powerful challenge to the prevailing misconception that dementia is just forgetfulness in old age.”

Mary and Richard have already raised over £750 of their £1,000 target. To donate to their fundraising page, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/MaryandRichardsride

You can also read Mary’s blog at http://canimakeyoutea.blogspot.co.uk/